Kia Hamsters are back in new Soul EV spot

Article by Andrew Christian, on August 26, 2014

Kia Motors Corp. has brought back its hamsters, along with their female counterparts. The Kia hamsters are being featured on the carmaker’s fully charged ad campaign for the Soul EV. The campaign also features Adam Levine’s falsetto on the new Maroon 5 track “Animals,” with Kia offering 200,000 free downloads of the song before its iTunes release.

According to Kia, the hamsters are “geek chic” in the spot, although their ladies are far from geeky. A surge of electricity supposedly bound for the Soul EV transforms a test hamster into somewhat a sexy woman with a hamster head.

The spot made its TV debut at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday. The Soul EV is the South Korean carmaker’s first mass-marketed electric vehicle, featuring an 81-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 27-kilowatt lithium ion polymer battery.

The Soul Ev boasts of being able to cruise 80 to 100 miles on a full single charge. Kia posted a 23-percent jump in sales of the Soul in the United States in the first seven months of 2014 to 89,708 units.

Kia logged a 7-percent rise in overall sales in the US in the same period, outpacing a market that has grown 5 percent. 

The hamsters have been the mainstays of the music-filled advertisements for the Soul. These furry yet very adorable music-loving advertising icons have been starring on every commercial for the urban passenger vehicle – all set to different soundtracks like that of Black Sheep’s "The Choice Is Yours," LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and Lady Gaga’s “Applause.”

With them supporting the soaring popularity of the Soul, the Kia brand as a whole is also benefiting from the increased awareness and consideration. Earlier ads were set against city and suburban street settings, in which the hamsters are the only inhabitants.

They love running in place inside their exercise wheels and comparing "This" – referring to the Kia Soul -- to "That" – referring to boring and dull appliances on wheels, cardboard boxes or hamster wheels. Their surge to popularity was highlighted by the "Share Some Soul" ad in 2011.

This campaign earned over 20 million views in YouTube, making it the third most-watched auto ad in the site’s history by the time. Later that year, the hamsters gained distinction as Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame’s first-ever "Rookie of the Year."

Colin Jeffery, chief creative officer at D&G, remarked that the over the past six years, the Kia Soul and the hamsters have evolved together. He noted that in 2013, the hamsters became sleek and sophisticated to match the transformation of the Soul.

He disclosed that for the new Soul EV campaign, the hamsters will be seen as smart beings -- reading books instead of going to the gym.

Press Release

KIA MOTORS’ ICONIC HAMSTERS TURN SCIENCE LAB INTO HOTBED OF INNOVATION IN CAMPAIGN FOR THE BRAND’S FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLE – THE SOUL EV

Since bursting on the scene in 2009 as “a new way to roll,” the funky Soul urban passenger vehicle – and an accompanying trio of music-loving hamsters – has become a genuine phenomenon, with U.S. sales of the iconic people mover increasing every year. Now, with “geek chic” newly added to the dictionary, the latest installment of Kia Motors America’s (KMA) award-winning ad campaign finds the hamsters inhabiting a high-tech, high-energy laboratory and unleashing their inner mad scientists to create the most innovative and eco-friendly Soul yet. Set to the infectious beat of Maroon5’s never-before-heard song “Animals,” sparks fly and jaws drop when a surge of electricity leads to the discovery of a furry new friend and the all-electric, zero emissions 2015 Soul EV. As part of the multi-platform “Fully Charged” campaign, Kia.com is exclusively offering 200,000 free downloads1 of “Animals” before its release on iTunes®2.

Created by David&Goliath, Kia's advertising agency of record3, an extended cut of “Fully Charged” is available now at Kia.com/KiaSoul before the spot’s broadcast debut during the MTV Video Music Awards on August 24.

“From hip-hop to pop, the hamsters have always had an ear for music and their paws on the pulse of pop culture. This year, the smartly dressed trio are breaking new music from Grammy Award-winners Maroon5 and celebrating the expansion of Kia’s line of eco-conscious vehicles by sharing ‘Animals’ for free at Kia.com,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing, KMA. “Kia is recognized as one of the 50 Best Global Green Brands4, and with the Soul EV about to shake things up in a category not known for head-turning good looks, the hamsters are out to prove that eye-catching style and eco-efficiency are no longer mutually exclusive.”

Soul Advertising Background
With a wide variety of soundtracks ranging from the classic hip-hop track "The Choice Is Yours" by Black Sheep and LMFAO's smash hit "Party Rock Anthem" to last year’s “Applause” by Lady Gaga, Kia’s music-loving hamsters have become some of the most-watched advertising icons of all time, and the Soul’s ongoing popularity is a driving force behind increased awareness and consideration for the Kia brand as a whole. Earlier spots depicted city and suburban streets inhabited exclusively by hamsters who mindlessly run in place inside their exercise wheels and cleverly compared "This," the funky and uniquely styled Soul, to "That," a number of boring and mundane appliances on wheels, cardboard boxes or hamster wheels.

With more than 20 million views, 2011's "Share Some Soul" was the third most-watched automotive ad in YouTube history at the time of the campaign launch, and later that year, the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame named the hamsters as their first-ever "Rookie of the Year."

"Over the last six years, the Kia Soul and the hamsters have evolved together,” said Colin Jeffery, chief creative officer, D&G. “In 2013, the Soul was totally transformed, so it made sense for the Hamsters to become just as sleek and sophisticated. This year, we were tasked with introducing Kia’s first electric vehicle in the U.S., and to suit their smart new ride, the hamsters started hitting the books instead of the gym. Smart is the new sexy, and the hamsters are using their wits, and a fortuitous lab accident, to their advantage.”

All-New 2015 Soul EV (#KiaSoul)
Scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter, the all-electric, zero-emissions Soul EV is the centerpiece of Kia’s Clean Mobility program and the brand’s first-ever mass-marketed electric vehicle. While it retains the funky style and functionality Soul is known for, the EV variant introduces new and more aerodynamic styling cues and is the first vehicle in the world to receive Underwriters Laboratory’s (UL) environmental validation for its integration of 10 percent bio-based material in the interior. A state-of-the-art 27 kWh lithium ion polymer battery powers an 81 kW electric motor, producing 210 lb.-ft. of torque, which drives front wheels and is expected to yield a range of approximately 80-100 miles of real-world driving on a full charge, with internal testing and evaluation results exceeding 100 miles in some instances.

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